Skip to main content

Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

See other formats

Powers recognised one Government and the others recognised another,
and it was absolutely necessary for us to adjust our views upon that great
division before any invitation could be sent and before we knew to which
Government it should be sent. What is happening now is that a Government
recognised by all the Powers, is being brought into being representative
of the broad elements of Polish national life. That Government will settle,
subject to what I have said about the election being free and unfettered,
the future course of affairs in Poland and will have the recognition of all the
united Governments, I trust, until such time as its situation can be placed
on unchallengeable footing by free, unfettered, universal sufferage exercised
at the elections.
Lord Dunglass (Conservative) : One reason why there is world concern
over the differences between Russia and Poland is because it is the first
case, a test case, in the relationship between a Great Power wielding great
military might, and her smaller and weaker neighbour. That is the reason
why there is world concern over this matter. As far as Poland is concerned
there is no country which by reason of its opposition to tyranny has earned
a greater right to independence. There is no country to which independence
has been more specifically pledged in treaty and declaration, and there is
no country which in its weakness, has a greater claim upon the magnanimity
of its friends. The British approach to this problem cannot rest upon
sentiment, but our hearts would need to be of stone if we were not moved
by these considerations. But our relations are generally specific undertakings
given in treaty, both to Poland and to Russia.
This House is familiar with our obligations to Poland. What are the
instruments which govern our relationships to Russia ? First, there is the
Atlantic Charter, which is not as ethereal as some people would have us
believe. It is in the Preamble to the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1942. It is
deliberately brought into this Agreement as a guide to the conduct of Great
Powers towards other Powers in the world. . . . What about the free
elections about which I asked the Prime Minister ? Do they give a real
hope that that section (of the Atlantic Charter) will be fulfilled which reads
cc that they wish to respect the rights of all people to those forms of
Government under which they wish to live."
Are there arrangements to end the shootings and deportations and the
outlawing of the Polish Home Army ? Do they give real promises that the
conditions will be fulfilled in which
" all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from
fear ? "
The questions which arise at the moment are under the last two headings,
but the Prime Minister is right about the territorial settlement. The Russians
have never receded for one moment, from the view that in this matter
they alone are the judges and what they have taken, they will keep. That
is their attitude, and I feel rather different from some other Members
about this territorial matter. I believe that if you try to force what is an
act of power, within the framework of the Atlantic Charter, you will^ not
whitewash the Act but you will break the Charter. When the Prime Minister
says that he accepts this as an act of justice, I must take a fundamentally
opposite view. We have, dozens of times in our history, accepted this kind
of arrangement as a fact of power. I accept it as a fact of power, but I
cannot be asked to underwrite it as an act of justice. This is not a quibble
in words. It is not a quibbling legalistic interpretation. I believe, most
profoundly, that it is an essential British interest that we should be seen
to preserve our moral standards in international behaviour. When our
plenipotentiaries go abroad and sign agreements for us, they go, it is trues